Years ago, many letters to the editor in various Bay Area newspapers began with the same phrase: “Let me get this straight,” after which the letter writer would tell us what had gotten him – usually – so upset. The focus was often on the newspaper itself, rather than a perceived injustice in the “real” world.
But, maybe for the first time, I think, “let me get this straight” is appropriate. This came to mind within hours of the shooting of Michael Brown.
The evening of the shooting, we “learned” that Michael Brown was a “college-bound” young man just minding his own business as he strolled down the street – not the sidewalk – in the business district of Ferguson, Missouri. It was only days later that we saw the video of Brown stealing a box of cigarillos, and then pushing the shopkeeper who tried to confront him as he left the store with his stolen goods. Then, that night, the “protestors” took to the street, and you know the rest.
I hadn’t seen much about individuals in the crowd of looters and protestors, but Thursday’s New York Times had an illuminating interview with 21-year-old Qua Calhoun, who has been out on the streets every night. Calhoun began by saying that the “looting and fighting with the police is all necessary,” as the Times reporter wrote. Then, perhaps the most chilling remark: “Just imagine if the dude gets found not guilty . . . It’s going to be way more than looting going on.”
Yes, I believe that most of the protestors were angry, not violent, but those males in front of the onrushing crowd wore the same “uniform”: Bare chest, saggers, a bandana and many had their faces covered with a bandana or perhaps a surgical mask.
There was much more attention in the media paid to the victim rather than the life of a police officer in the predominately black community of Ferguson. Would any in the media who portrayed the “innocence” of the “college-bound” victim want to have the job of Officer Darren Wilson? What would your reaction be if you were charged by someone of Brown’s size and bulk?
Then the scene shifts from the streets of Ferguson to the comments of some politicians. The most egregious may well have been from the Democratic governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, who called for a “vigorous prosecution” of Officer Wilson. Nixon insisted on the prosecution even before the grand jury had done its work.
I wonder whether our unbiased, impartial, even-handed Attorney General Eric Holder is going to demand that officials, such as himself, at the national, state and local level withhold judgment until we hear from the grand jury.
Yeah, I bet.
Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]